Chesterton Tribune

Renovated Hageman Library booming as young people flock to books

Back to Front Page






Circulation at Porter’s Hageman Library is up dramatically, and Westchester Public Library Board members said it’s easy to see why.

Following a tour during Thursday’s board meeting to view recent renovations, president Vern Odom commented, “Kudos all the way around to everyone who had a part in it. I think you’ll all agree it’s a nice change. It’s just astounding.”

Circulation of materials at Hageman last month shows a nearly 90 percent increase over October, 2008. “The numbers are definitely driven by the kids,” said board member Drew Rhed citing a 237 percent jump in juvenile nonfiction and a 136 percent increase in juvenile fiction.

By comparison, October circulation at Thomas Library in Chesterton was up by 7.69 percent. Year-to-date systemwide WPL circulation is up 7.48 percent with 332,231 items circulated.

Hageman manager Suzi Chomel described how areas recently were freshly painted and relocated there creating better supervision for public-computer users, an adult relaxation area around the fireplace, a young-adult reading area with fun chairs and a children’s play area, the latter two each facing large windows.

Chomel also said 20 new magazine titles have been added to the serials department; the materials budget at Hageman has been increased and new programs offered.

Library officials said they anticipate the good news at Hageman will only get better.

Assistant WPL library director Jane Walsh-Brown reported a Nintendo Wii game system is being set up in the Hageman meeting room to run on a 42-inch LCD television. In the next few weeks the dates and times will be announced when Wii will be available for young people and adults to test their hand at Wii sports, Rock Band and the Wii Fit programs.

The equipment was purchased through the library gift fund. Next month the Library Board will discuss a policy for Wii use by patrons. “I think it will be very popular. A lot of libraries are doing this now,” said Walsh-Brown.

Board vacancy announced

In other business, Porter resident Karen Nash has resigned from the Library Board due to work and family responsibilities. The Duneland School Board, which appointed her, will be notified of the vacancy. A replacement will complete Nash’s term, which expires in 2011.

The Library Board discussed but took no position on a proposal by the Porter County Council to disburse to individual government units a portion of the interest earned on the former sale of the county-owned Porter Memorial Hospital.

WPL library director Phil Baugher estimated under the council’s tentative formula the library would receive about $29,000.

The money is intended to reimburse government units to offset their cost of borrowing money while awaiting their share of the long-delayed Porter County property tax bills, due to arrive in the mail soon.

WPL never had to borrow but its attorney, Terry Hiestand, said the library did lose interest money by not being able to invest its cash because it had to be reserved to finance operations. “We self-financed a $2.8 million budget.”

Library Board members were split whether to request the reimbursement money, pass on it or take no position. When Odom called for a motion and none was forthcoming, the latter occurred.

WPL recently did receive from Porter County $683.29 representing the library’s share of the interest the county earned on taxes collected but not disbursed.

In a related matter, Walsh-Brown said revised figures show in 2010 and 2011 when circuit-breaker property tax caps take full effect in Indiana, the library stands to lose $12,734 in the first year and $20,947 the second or an average $7,000 more revenue than first estimated.

Facebook fans sought

Walsh-Brown said WPL’s new Facebook page has grown steadily and is proving to be a great way for the library to publicize upcoming activities and provide photos and commentary on events. The page can be accessed at by clicking on the blue Facebook button; 134 fans have registered so far.

The library recently hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon saluting its 45 volunteers and 34 shelf elves, the latter who help maintain the stacks.

It was announced both Thomas and Hageman libraries and the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum will close Dec. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the staff Christmas Party. The next Library Board meeting will be Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at the museum in the Brown Mansion on West Porter Avenue.

Walsh-Brown said the museum is looking to hire a museum educator/printer position offering employment 20 hours per week.

The assistant director presented a report to the Library Board regarding programming, which she said is guided by WPL’s mission to provide information, provide education and instruction, provide cultural experience and growth, and to provide meaningful recreation to the residents of the library district.

Through October of this year 17,863 people have attended 1,019 free library/museum programs representing a wide variety of topics for people of every age.

Walsh-Brown said all WPL departments across the board contribute in some way to programming, whether Computer Basics and Help Clinics, Popular Books, Simple Home Repairs, Film Series, Knitting for the Holidays, museum exhibits and talks, and even the recent very popular Create A Skull series of Halloween art projects.

New to the Children’s Department is The Lego Club where participants make original creations from the popular toy. Raising Readers is an incentive program to encourage parents to read 1,000 books to their children before they enter Kindergarten; as of last week 79 families signed up at Thomas and 29 at Hageman.

A unique program, according to Walsh-Brown, is the Children’s Department’s Chess Master Instruction program overseen by area resident Nick Gronewegen. About 25 children are enrolled.

“We’re the only one to have this (program) and it’s really caught fire this year,” said Walsh-Brown.



Posted 11/13/2009